The word Inclusion and it’s misconceptions

These are the common questions that people ask me when I speak about Inclusion and acceptance of autism.

1.What is Inclusion according to you?tea

According to me,any loving act, gestures or words by a third person acknowledging my child is Inclusion and acceptance. The neighbor who pass through our gate,shows a gestural ‘hi’ at Sivaa, whenever he sits outside. This neighbor has never asked me anything about his diagnosis and I’m unsure as to whether he knows it or not. Surprisingly Sivaa would also wave back and even smiles at him. So that’s inclusion and I would love to see that social connection happening from everyone around.

2. How do I make the people understand my concept of inclusion?
Sorry I’m not an expert in this field. But definitely I’m an expert mother of my child. So I think it’s my duty to make the society acceptable and inclusive for my Child. For that, I use every single opportunity to it’s best. Few months back, my friend invited us to her house for lunch. I didn’t accept her invitation for lunch but I told her I will definitely come with Sivaa and stay there for few hours and would leave before lunch. Why because it was our first visit to her house and I knew Sivaa would find difficult to wait for more than one hour. But I told I will be there for two hours or so and I also told her the exact time I would reach the house . She was one of my close friend and so it was easy for me to make her understand things. Sivaa being a foodie I told her, he would expect a welcome drink as soon as he comes home and also he has that habit of opening fridge which I would be controlling very much but if that sensory need is too much, there is every chance of he making me blindfolded and would somehow try to open it. I also taught her not bombard him with so many questions as to… Do you like this? Do you want this? Unless the situation calls for it. We were given a warm welcome by her but I could see that she was little nervous and uncomfortable in the beginning but soon she became comfortable with my son. Sivaa was also well behaved and later when we were leaving she hugged him tightly and said bye to Sivaa. My eyes rolled with tears because that was the inclusion I was expecting.

3.Does inclusion also gives the right for exemption for my child’s behaviour?

No.. nowhere in the line I meant like that. Yes my son has difficulty in processing and communicating things but that doesn’t mean that his disability is an exemption for his wrong behaviours. The concept of NO has to be taught to him. As a parent I’m accountable and answerable for my child’s acts. Like I told before , its my duty to teach my children( both neuro typical and neuro non typical) as how to behave in a common settings. The way I would be handling the neuro divergent would be different but still it’s my duty to atleast make an effort. If Sivaa likes opening fridge and if he generalize the same outside in my friends house , I should control and avoid such situations. And also if a guest come to our house, he has that habit of trying to peep in to the plastic kits that he or she is carrying. Knowing all these, I shouldn’t allow such situations to happen again. But I should also understand that there are things beyond my control and I would have no clue about it called meltdowns or sensory overload which should be exempted as it cannot be categorized as child’s behaviours. I also believe that if you don’t teach our children the concept of NO and certain do ‘s and don’t s which comes under the socially acceptable protocols, the real inclusion doesn’t happen.

4. What are the challenges that I face while striving for inclusion?

Staring is a common challenge.People stare as if he is from a different species. Apart from that people ask about his conditions and diagnosis in his presence which is heartbreaking. Some other people forgets his age and interacts like they’re interacting with a baby. For some others verbal would be the only form of communication. So they would constantly demand for a verbal response from them. I think it’s too much for our children and they just loose it. A few days back I told my aunt that he started skating. I was feeling very proud while saying that but her reply took me aback. She said whatever he does has zero value unless and until he start communicating verbally.

All these are my personal experiences and views based on my journey through the life of autism. My findings are exceptionally personal and not professional.


Preetha Anoop Menon

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